Cat’s Hill Classic
When I was new to racing, this was without a doubt my favorite course. For one reason or another, mostly the fact that both of my children were either being born or having their first birthdays with in the last 3 years, this is the first time I’ve been able to come back since 2009 when I won the Category 3 race. I think the 3’s do 18 laps or something, which is pretty tough, but our race nearly doubled that on Saturday with 34 laps of true pain, in roughly 75 minutes. This course has 5, 90 degree right turns and one 90 degree left that takes you into the climb around the midpoint of the loop. There is a fast bumpy descent that drops you to the final turn onto the finishing straight less than 200m from the line. My plan was to move up early and stay as close to the front as possible. Luckily I got a decent starting position and I was able to hit the insanely steep, but short, 23% climb in the top 5 on the first lap. I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel on such a steep climb, but I felt good and gained confidence throughout. Teammate Ariel Herrman led me out perfectly to snatch an early prime, a $400 gift card to a prestigious Los Gatos Restaurant. Justin Rossi was off the front of the group early and often, much of it solo. I was able to sit in the pack and follow moves from other teams trying to bring Rossi back. I felt great going up the climb, well that’s actually just a relative term, because it hurt like hell, but compared to a lot of other guys in the pack I felt great I guess. One guy that seemed to be able to cause a gap whenever he wanted was Ben Jacques-Maynes. Several times over the top of the climb he was able to accelerate away, and I would have to push as hard as I could to keep him and the few that had the ability to follow, within reach. Ariel did a good job covering several moves throughout the race as well as Art Rand and Jonathon Teeter. It was amazing that Rossi was able to hold off the pack solo for so much of the race. Unfortunately, there was an issue with the lap cards once they showed 9 to go and we ended up doing 2 extra laps, otherwise he might have stayed away for the victory. With 5 or 6 to go, Team Mike’s Bikes went to the front with everyone they had, and began chasing as hard as they could. It still took them to the start of the last lap to bring Rossi back. Over the top of the climb on the final lap, all that was left for Mike’s Bikes was Roman Kilun leading James Laberge. Jacques-Maynes was next, then me. I thought I was in perfect position going into the downhill. The positions were the same going into the final turn and Jacques-Maynes absolutely railed the corner and kept his momentum on the exit. I let a small gap open and that’s all it took to cost me the race. I sprinted across the line in third right behind Laberge and the winner Ben Jacques-Maynes. I was glad to be on the podium, but a little disappointed knowing how close I was to the win.